Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The problem with American Jewish liberals, personified

Elder of Ziyon
26 May '10

Marjorie Ingall is a columnist for Tablet magazine. In her latest column she admits:

I am deeply ambivalent about Israel. Modern-day Israel, as opposed to historical Israel, is a subject I avoid with my children. Yes, of course I believe the state should exist, but the word “Zionist” makes me skittish. I shy away from conversations about Israeli politics. I feel no stirring in my heart when I see the Israeli flag. I would no sooner attend an Israel Day parade than a Justin Bieber concert. Neither Abe Foxman nor AIPAC speaks for me. I am a liberal, and I am deeply troubled by the Matzav, Israeli shorthand for tension with the Palestinians, and I do not have answers, and I do not know what to do about it, and I do not know what to tell my children.

From reading her column, it is obvious that her knowledge of Israel is minimal - and extraordinarily colored by her exposure to the liberal media. A later section of her article painfully shows her extreme naiveté, as she explains Israel to her eight-year old daughter:

I stumbled desperately through an explanation of why two peoples feel they have a legitimate claim to the same land.

“But having land is like having a seat on a bus,” Josie replied. “You can’t just push someone out of their seat, and you can’t just leave your seat and then come back to it after a long time and just expect the person who is sitting there now to give it to you.”

My panicked reaction to her words surprised me. I found myself trying to convince her that Israel did have that right. But that’s not what I believe. But I’m not sure what I believe. I want my children to love Israel, but I don’t want them to identify with bullies. I was spinning in my own head like the desperate, overwhelmed woman in the Calgon commercial: J Street, take me away!

But Josie’s bus-bully analogy resonated. Baby-boomer Jews seem wedded to a sepia-toned image of Jews as victims—in the shtetl, in the Holocaust, in Israel’s early wars. But in real life, victims can turn into bullies.

An intelligent woman, who is clearly proud of her Jewishness, finds her pre-teen daughter's childish analogy of Israel's existence to a bully on a bus to be unassailable?

Here is the exact problem. Jews whose entire knowledge of Israel is based on BBC and Reuters headlines are transmitting that ambivalence and discomfort about Zionism to the next generation - and, of course, the next generation will convert that ambivalence into antipathy.

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